"No more dots"
Most will have already seen this Gambit review of recently-published books authored by Jed Horne, Ivor van Heerden, Mark Schleifstein, and others, but a recent PGR comment caused me to revisit the review, where the following nugget stayed with me.
The Dutch rebuilt better and stronger after devastating 1953 floods, and Kobe residents rebuilt after the devastating 1995 earthquake. Will New Orleanians be able to rebuild?
Reviewer Jason Berry offered this concern:
Cities can and do recover if they have the will and the means to achieve it. Do New Orleanians have the will? There is so little outrage toward Nagin as to suggest a collective numbness. Absent a galvanizing mayor, getting Congressional support for a state-of-the-art hurricane-defense system will be somewhat difficult.
We New Orleans bloggers have for months and years been doing what we can to get the message out about Category 5 storm protection and coastal restoration, and the astounding incompetence of See Ray Nagin, but if no one reads what we write, does it matter?
I'm disappointed to see local press organizations starting to fall back into their pre-Katrina mediocrity. WWL Radio, for example, appears to have fallen back into the Flush Limbaugh-sports-and-crime format.
I saw the incredible disappearing mayor (or his skull-buffed imposter) talking about housing on WWL TV yesterday. A video clip showed the poseur mayor saying that he thought the supply of housing stock would soon catch up with the demand -- to which any person with a high school education would have asked: "Okay Mr. Mayor. What exactly is the current housing supply and demand, and when precisely do you think supply will catch up with demand?" But no, the reporter wrapped up his tidy little story without as much as the spark of a thought about the most obvious question, letting the incompetent Ray Ray off the hook once again.
As for planning the rebuilding of neighborhoods (where again, the incredible disappearing mayor has been conspicuously absent), I'd like to strongly recommend Lucy's last New Orleans post (though I hope she'll be back to offer more of her sharp insights in the future at Mapping Lucy). Lucy offered some incredibly-witty observations on the Unified New Orleans Plan process:
“No more dots” he kept saying, referring to the little stickers that he has put on endless maps at endless meetings to indicate where a school or firestation might go. At a UNOP meeting, he caused a stir by telling the facilitator that he could do her job, “I can get up there and ask you what you want and write it down on a list”. ...
The House of Dance and Feathers is a symbol of hope, a catalyst for action and a means to nurture one of New Orleans most unique cultures, the Mardi Gras Indians. But could it have ever materialised within the context of the city-led planning process? I doubt it. ...
I thought of those slides of empty meetings, whiteboards and sharpies, and decided the official planners could do with spending half an hour at St Augustine and the House of Dance and Feathers if they need some new ideas about what really motivates the citizens of New Orleans to ‘participate’.
Michael Homan can explain to you what those annoying little red dots are.
If you decided not to read Lucy's post, here's another reason to visit -- she posted a new pen-and-ink illustration, this one portraying the the House of Dance and Feathers. You won't be disappointed.
Thank you Lucy for spending time in our city, for helping to create a model for rebirth, and for celebrating the true culture of New Orleans!
Tags: Hurricane Katrina | Katrina | New Orleans | Louisiana | America's Wetland | We Are Not OK | Rebuild New Orleans | Unified New Orleans Plan | UNOP | Ray Nagin | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option